April 7, 2016
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A new, better version of Brent Metcalf will chase his Olympic dream Saturday at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The 29-year-old Metcalf, a two-time national champion and three-time All-American at the University of Iowa, is the No. 1 ranked men’s freestyle wrestler at 65 kg/143 pounds. He is a four-time U.S. World Team member and the 2015 Pan American Games champion.
“I have had a great last four years, leading up to this cycle,” said Metcalf, who trains with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. “I have done a lot of great things, maybe not in the moments where the biggest titles were earned, but that’s where I am at in continuing the good things and making it count when it matters.”
The men’s freestyle 65 kg begins Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT). The best two-of-three Championship Series begins at 6 p.m. (CT). The winner still needs to qualify the United States’ 65 kg weight class to secure a spot at the Rio Olympics.
“I am a better wrestler, husband, dad… everything. Where I was then and where I am now, I feel like a newer, better version of myself. I feel positive about where I am at and am ready to go out and get the job done.”
Metcalf had visions of London in 2012 when he advanced to the Championship Series at 66 kg with victories over Jordan Oliver, Case Pami, and Josh Churella. Former Hawkeye assistant Jared Frayer denied Metcalf’s bid to make the Olympic team.
“He came out and took that match from me,” said Metcalf. “I was in it and it was a great match, but that’s the mentality I need to have. Not that you’re going to go in and since you’re the better guy, you’ll win, figure it out.
“(I need) to go in and take the match, take what I want, and that’s to be on the Olympic team.”
Metcalf is different this time. It comes with growth, learning from defeat, and working to be the best. That’s why this time is going to be different, he says.
“I am a better wrestler, husband, dad… everything,” he said. “Where I was then and where I am now, I feel like a newer, better version of myself. I feel positive about where I am at and am ready to go out and get the job done.”
The 65 kg weight class is loaded with wrestlers like four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber and four-time All-American and 2015 World Bronze medalist James Green. Oliver, a two-time NCAA champion at Oklahoma State, is the No. 2 seed.
The field has Metcalf reflecting on his 2008 NCAA title at 149 pounds when he ran through Ohio State’s Lance Palmer, Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs, and Penn State’s Bubba Jenkins en route to his first career NCAA title.
“I went at it (in 2008) like I knew I had my work cut out for me and I was going to be working uphill a little bit,” said Metcalf. “It was a huge challenge and I was able to get the job done. That’s how I look at this as well.
“You took three (collegiate weight classes — 141, 149, 157) and put them into one. It happened to be three of the deepest, toughest classes in the United States and combined them into one. There are a lot of guys who have a great history and good rap sheets.
“I have to attack this thing and go at it, nothing is given. It doesn’t matter what seed you are or what you’ve done in the past. If you want to be on this Olympic Team, you have a lot of work to do to do it.”
The surroundings in Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be familiar for Metcalf just like it was in 2012. This time, Metcalf is pushing aside the excitement and focusing on the task at hand.
“(In 2012) there was a lot of excitement about getting to wrestle in Carver and in front of the fans,” he said. “Last time I fell short of where I wanted to be. It is different this time; it is more ‘get the job done.’ Ultimately the fans and what arena I am in, all that doesn’t matter if I have to go home feeling the way I did in 2012.”